The Technical Academy Plays -b0b- [CS; Fixture]

A real John Henry sort of a situation here: Who is best at free jazz? Is it Man… or Machine? -b0b-, otherwise known as computer programmer and musical composer Bob Lee, made that question a little more complicated to answer. Of course there’s always the presupposition that any electronic music is essentially man-made, musical decisions like form, harmonic progression, melody, rhythm and timing all decided upon by a sentient human prior to recording. But on this release from Fixture Records, which collects music played during the 90s by The Technical Academy, a veritable band of automatons created by Lee, the results are surely much too weird to have been entirely programmed in ahead of time by some all-knowing/composing composer. Rather, these “songs” are all the products of algorithms, each robot reacting musically based on its own individual coding and the instrumental parameters set up by Lee at the onset, which included drums, flutes, horns, pianos, guitars, bass, the works (all midi, of course). A hit of the play button, and off those little bots went, meandering through notes, hammering out wicked drum-machine solos and plunking through drifty extended dance jams, all of which ends up sounding like a giant traffic jam turned into the weirdest, most-fun sounding party of all time. There’s some awesome inserts that come with this tape, including a brief interview the label did with Lee about the making of this music, and also a little guide to some of the source code used in the bots. Frankly, this stuff is totally bizarre and a tough listen, but aside from the sheer fascination and uniqueness of the project itself, -b0b- says something about releasing performance from the human conscience — The Technical Academy is a band totally free of inhibitions, and because of it, the music comes off sounding remarkably confident and strong, despite its utter randomness. So the question still remains I guess… Free jazz. Man or machine? Let’s put it this way: The Technical Academy is certainly no Ornette Coleman. But Ornette Coleman ain’t no Technical Academy neither.

Links: Fixture


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